LAKE ORION, Mich. — A school crossing guard here was recently honored by a nonprofit that focuses on child safety for going above and beyond to protect children on their way to and from school.
Penni Robertson, known for her positive attitude and unyielding commitment to students, was named America’s Favorite Crossing Guard in a morning assembly in front of students, parents, faculty, and elected officials at Carpenter Elementary.
Robertson, the inaugural recipient of the honor, awarded by Safe Kids Worldwide, was selected from nominations from across the country.
“Penni is a shining light for the children at Carpenter,” said Adam Welton, principal of Carpenter Elementary. “She braves rain, snow, wind, and any element. She uses her own limited resources to help feed and clothe children in our building. She even drives one of our students to school every day because he doesn't have a ride. And there’s so much more that makes her worthy of America’s Favorite Crossing Guard.”
A research report released in October by Safe Kids Worldwide, made possible with support from FedEx, revealed that school zones can be unsafe places for students. The research, “Alarming Dangers in School Zones,” is an observational study that included 39,000 pedestrians and 56,000 motorists in school zones and recorded risky behaviors, including distracted walking by students, distracted driving by those dropping them off, unsafe speed limits, unmarked crosswalks, and limited crossing guards.
The research revealed that about 80% of students were observed crossing the street in an unsafe manner. Additionally, nearly one in three drivers displayed unsafe behaviors that endangered student pedestrians, such as texting, double parking, or blocking a crosswalk. View an infographic of the findings here.
Safe Kids and FedEx launched the America’s Favorite Crossing Guard campaign to raise awareness about the contribution that crossing guards make to protect kids in school zones.
“With teen pedestrian deaths on the rise and kids and drivers more distracted than ever, crossing guards are our unsung champions,” said Kristin Rosenthal, program manager for U.S. pedestrian and bike safety at Safe Kids Worldwide. “They are out there rain or shine, even in the coldest of winter mornings, to ensure a safe journey for our kids around schools. Penni is one of many wonderful crossing guards around the country who deserve our gratitude.”
Robertson, who joined Carpenter Elementary in 2012, has worked as a staff associate and crossing guard since 2013.
“This is a great honor and something I never expected,” said Robertson, who has two children, Gaven, 15, and Gage, 13. “I feel very lucky to have the chance to make an impact in the lives of the kids at our school. I just love the daily interactions I get to have with not only the kids, but the school community as well.”
The America’s Favorite Crossing Guard program will continue in 2017. For more information about the initiative and how to nominate a crossing guard, go to safekids.org.